This is an excerpt from a column I wrote for Deadline Detroit.
In virtually any other county, this scene would have been shocking.
Six Michigan State Police cars parked side-by-side in front of the Macomb County Administration Building in downtown Mount Clemens for a raid of the prosecutor’s office Wednesday. That’s the headquarters of Prosecutor Eric Smith, the county’s top lawman, who’s under criminal investigation.
Welcome to Macomb County politics, where political corruption scandals are a dime a dozen – and sometimes connect to hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars.
In public statements, Smith has essentially pleaded not guilty to allegations, based on hundreds of documents, that he misspent large sums from county financial accounts totaling $1.8 million. Essentially, the Macomb Township Democrat is accused of treating the money like a slush fund.
A few observations about Wednesday’s intrigue:
- Why the need for six cop cars to raid a prosecutor’s office – certainly not a dangerous dealer’s drug den – located in a secured government building?
- After Smith had vowed to fully cooperate, why was a full crew of officers needed to gather up documents that might have amounted to no more than several boxes of material?
- How is it that the state police moved just a couple weeks after Attorney General Dana Nessel had turned over the investigation to the MSP? After all, Macomb County residents have grown accustomed to political corruption investigations that last for a year or two.
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